Mayor Bottoms Signs Agreement for City of Atlanta to Join Employment, Education and Outreach Coalition (EMPLEO)

The City of Atlanta today announced that Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has signed an agreement for the City to join the Employment, Education, and Outreach (EMPLEO) coalition. The coalition is an initiative of the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour division to address the concerns of recent immigrants who are not familiar with their workplace rights and responsibilities in the U.S. Welcoming Atlanta, an initiative of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, facilitated the partnership with EMPLEO as part of its public safety and economic power programs, which also support Mayor Bottoms’ equity and education initiatives. The partnership will help protect Spanish-speaking members of the workforce, as well as employers, from illegal work practices that put them in unfair and unsafe situations.

“One of our city’s greatest strengths is found in our diversity. It is in that spirit that I am honored to announce Atlanta’s participation in the EMPLEO program,” said Mayor Bottoms.  “We believe that a government that works for everyone is a government at its best, particularly when informing residents of critical guaranteed workplace rights. In a time when certain segments of our society are targeted for their country of origin or nationality, Atlanta must send a strong signal to all its residents that they indeed have a seat at the table.”

Since its inception in Southern California in 2004, the EMPLEO alliance of community and non-governmental organizations, along with state, local and federal agencies and Hispanic consulates, has provided information and assistance to Spanish-speaking workers and employers regarding their workplace rights and responsibilities in the United States. EMPLEO’s toll-free hotline has been instrumental in helping thousands of workers recover more than $15 million in back wages. Over the last ten years, EMPLEO has expanded its reach to also serve immigrant workers and employers in Washington, Nevada, Oregon, Idaho, and Georgia.

The EMPLEO hot-line utilizes well-trained bilingual volunteers who are not part of any governmental organization to assist callers by referring them to the appropriate organization, consulate or state or federal agency for help. This arrangement can help ease various concerns of workers uncomfortable with contacting an agency directly. EMPLEO also protects employers and business abiding by State and Federal labor laws from unfair competition by those illegally cutting corners at the cost of the safety and wellbeing of their workers.

Overtime pay, minimum wage, discrimination, meals/breaks, and family medical leave are some of the top issues faced by Spanish-speaking employees. Most employees are afraid to report their concerns due to fears of retaliation or loss of employment. EMPLEO reduces the vulnerability of employees to retaliatory termination by investigating concerns and protecting them from reprisals.

“Workplace labor violations are one of the most common infractions reported by our Spanish-speaking workforce,” said Michelle Maziar, Director of the Welcoming Atlanta initiative. “By joining the coalition, the City of Atlanta can continue to inform and protect all members of our workforce and ensure that language is not a barrier to accessing justice.”

Georgia EMPELO participants include: DOL Wage and Hour Division, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, Women’s Bureau, Consulate General of Ecuador in Atlanta, Consulate General of Honduras in Atlanta, The Latin American Association, Georgia Hispanic Construction Association, Tapestri and City of Atlanta.

Love Beyond Walls Launches March to Commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King

 

In light of the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination, the social justice advocacy organization Love Beyond Walls in partnership with the Center for Civil and Human Rights will launch the second March Against Poverty. Love Beyond Walls founder and Executive Director Terence Lester will travel on foot from Dr. King’s birth city in Atlanta, GA to the historic Lorraine Motel in Memphis, TN.  The 386 mile journey beginning Saturday, March 3rd to Wednesday, April 4th will commemorate Dr. King’s legacy and bring awareness to fight against systemic poverty, social injustice and the homeless epidemic still present in America today. Love Beyond Walls along with the NAACP, Georgia Alliance for Social Change, Wheat Street Baptist Church and  Atlanta influencers will host an official send off and press conference at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights on Saturday, March 3rd at 6:00pm.

Before Dr. King was killed, he planned his next initiative, “The Poor People’s Campaign.” Dr. King believed that the next step towards equality was to eradicate a system that even today keeps members of society enslaved to poverty.

In 2016, Love Beyond Walls launched a national campaign to raise awareness for those fighting against systemic poverty. Executive Director, Terence Lester walked from Atlanta, GA to Washington D.C, over 700 miles to bring attention to poverty in the U.S. The campaign, March Against Poverty 2016, gathered thousands together and videos of the campaign reached over 5 million views.

From the campaign, Love Beyond Walls created a documentary entitled, “Voiceless” that has been viewed by thousands, aired on AIB network, and started a national conversation on systemic poverty.

“This march is a testament to the legacy of Dr. King and to shed light on the millions of people across the nation from all walks of life and nationalities  who experience the harsh realities of homelessness and poverty. It is time for the next generation to pick up the baton and we are on the frontlines to leading the charge,” says  Terence Lester, founder and Executive Director of Love Beyond Walls.

The march kicks of on Saturday, March 3rd at 6:00pm at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights and will feature remarks from city officials and civil rights leaders.

Love Beyond Walls is a 501c(3) nonprofit based in Atlanta, Georgia. They’ve worked with hundreds of people transitioning out of homelessness and poverty.

For more information on the event and campaign please visit marchagainstpoverty.com.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms Signs Ordinance to Transfer 31 Deeds to Atlanta Public Schools

The City of Atlanta today announced that Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has signed ordinance 18-O-1054 which transfers deeds for 31 properties to Atlanta Public Schools. Mayor Bottoms pledged to turn over the deeds during her campaign.  Within the first 30 days of her Administration, Mayor Bottoms initiated the process to begin the transfer of more than half of the property deeds. Mayor Bottoms signed the ordinance into law the day after the Atlanta City Council overwhelmingly approved the transfer.

 The ordinance included a provision requesting that APS dismiss the 31 properties from the school system’s suit against the City. Removing the transferred properties from the ongoing litigation will save Atlanta taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars, if not more, that could be better spent on city services and improving public education.

“On the campaign trail and during my inaugural address, I made a commitment to partner with APS to advance our shared priorities of providing a high-quality public education for all of Atlanta’s children and creating access to affordable housing for all families. I am pleased that we are moving forward and honoring our commitment. In return, the Atlanta City Council and I asked that APS remove the transferred properties from its ongoing suit against the City. I believe we all agree that it is time to resolve this matter and dismissing these properties from the suit demonstrates that APS is equally committed to our partnership,” said Mayor Bottoms.

With the transfer of the 31 properties, along with the nine properties transferred in 2017, the City has conveyed nearly all of the properties at issue in the litigation APS filed in March 2015. The City and APS are in agreement that the remaining properties to be transferred require additional work by both APS and the City to be ready for a quitclaim transfer.  In the coming weeks, the City and APS will work together to resolve issues for the remaining properties.

Philanthropy Can Help Atlanta Become a “City too busy to hate!”

Metro Atlanta is home to the largest charitable sector in the South, and has grown and thrived on a reputation of prosperity and inclusiveness. But this belies a growing gentrification and criminalization problem that has marginalized the region’s underserved populations.

National and Southern foundations and wealthy donors need to support the Metro Atlanta communities’ grassroots activism to make the city’s reputation a reality.

“Many of the city’s underserved citizens have been pushed to the margins in the name of progress,” said Aaron Dorfman, chief executive of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy in a blog post. “Fortunately, there is a huge opportunity for foundations and wealthy donors to step in and support those communities.”

As the South Grows: Bearing Fruit,” a new report from the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP; www.ncrp.org) and Grantmakers for Southern Progress (GSP; http://www.nfg.org/as_the_south_grows) explores how foundations and wealthy donors can respond to the “historic dearth” of philanthropic investment in grassroots policy change work in the region.

Few philanthropic dollars are empowering underserved Atlantans

Metro Atlanta is among the country’s fastest growing regions. Its “city too busy to hate” slogan seeks to project a welcoming, forward-looking image. Yet, its underserved residents are largely left out from these economic opportunities and marginalized populations are targeted by exclusionary policies and practices.

For example, thousands of immigrants attracted to Atlanta by its reputation have instead received apathetic responses from local civic and business leaders regarding harassment of immigrant communities by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Meanwhile, both newcomers and long-time Atlantans struggle to find affordable housing.

According to Ryan Schlegel and Stephanie Peng, authors of “Bearing Fruit,” most of the philanthropy in the city goes to direct service work; just 2 percent of philanthropic investments go to organizations working to build power and change policy.

Furthermore, only two in 10 of philanthropic dollars in the city directly benefit low- and middle-income communities, people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ people and other underserved communities.

Grassroots success does not excuse lack of investment

“Bearing Fruit” features stories from some of Metro Atlanta’s grassroots organizations that have had successes despite limited resources. These include Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, Southerners On New Ground, Racial Justice Action Center and Partnership for Southern Equity.

However, this “make-do” attitude in spite of a lack of philanthropic support is not a justification for the continued lack of investment in grassroots power-building strategies, Schlegel and Peng wrote. They urge funders to increase support for efforts that organize, engage and amplify the voices of underserved communities working for equitable, just treatment and access to opportunities.

How can donors make a difference in Metro Atlanta?

Schlegel and Peng spoke with dozens of Metro Atlanta’s community leaders, nonprofits and grant makers and developed five practical recommendations for donors who want their giving to help all marginalized Atlantans thrive:

  • Ensure that data broken down by race, gender, income, sexual identity and other demographics informs priorities and strategies.
  • Recognize the difficulty in organizing marginalized communities against the dominant political culture in Atlanta and other Southern cities.
  • Provide patient, risk-tolerant, long-term investments in grassroots organizations that enable them to build their bases and cultivate relationships.
  • Invest in organizations, not just projects, by giving flexible operating support to Southern grantees.
  • Learn local history, context, power and priorities to understand who your philanthropic partners are – and who they aren’t.

Donors can also learn from the experiences of The Kendeda Fund and The Annie E. Casey Foundation, both featured in the report.

As the South Grows: Bearing Fruit” offers practical tips and resources that will help grant makers and donors to have lasting impact. The report, as well as the first three in the series, “On Fertile Soil,” “Strong Roots” and “Weathering the Storm,” is available on www.ncrp.org.